To call it an eventful contest would be an understatement — the San Jose Sharks roared back from a 3-0 deficit, Joe Thornton was a goal away from whipping it out, Joe Pavelski and Zdeno Chara were swinging sticks at each other like it was “Slapshot,” Chris Wagner netted a controversial tying goal — it was a contest so eventful, Donskoi being shuttled from San Jose’s top line since December to the fourth line was a drop in a bucket. In his place, Lukas Radil moved up.
“I thought Donny could’ve been better. That was a heavy game out there,” Peter DeBoer explained. “I thought Radil was giving us a little bit more of that.”
If you can believe it, Donskoi (27) enjoyed a promising beginning to his evening.
On his first shift, he sealed Danton Heinen (43) off, forcing the puck back.
Next, as Boston was forming an attack triangle, Donskoi identified the free man, snuffing out a dangerous Charlie McAvoy (73) bid.
It was a strong start for Donskoi. But indeed, it would be a weak finish. By my count, Donskoi would lose five of his next six 50-50 battles.
About 30 seconds later, Chris Wagner (14) tracked Donskoi down from behind.
Funny enough, NHL.com credited Radil’s first shift with Hertl and Kane to Donskoi:
Donskoi hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games and has just five assists in that stretch, but that wasn’t why he got demoted. More often than not, the Finnish winger can be counted on to make the big little plays, utilize his speed and smarts to win some 50-50 battles.
But last night, to offer a hockey cliche, Donskoi simply wasn’t hard enough to play against.